Padang, W Sumatra (ANTARA) - Some 174 Chinese tourists arrived at Minangkabau International Airport in West Sumatra Province on Sunday at around 06.36 a.m. Western Indonesia Time (WIB) amid a global fear of Wuhan's novel coronavirus outbreak.

West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno and Secretary of the West Sumatra provincial administration Alwis warmly welcomed them at the airport's arrival terminal. They were also entertained with a dance and Talempong (musical) performance.

As part of the Indonesian Government's precautionary measures for halting the spread of coronavirus, the airport's authority screened all passengers arrival from international flights, including the Chinese tourists.

Prior to their arrival, Head of PT Marawa Corporate Darmawi told journalists that 174 tourists departed from Kumning International Airport in Yunnan Province, which is far away from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Before boarding the aircraft heading to West Sumatra, they had actually been checked by the health authorities at Kunming International Airport to ensure that they did not suffer the symptoms of coronavirus, he said.

The six-day trip of these Chinese travelers to West Sumatra was facilitated by PT Marawa Corporate collaborating with Cocos Tour.

During their stay in the province until Jan 31, the Chinese tourists would visit several popular destinations. "We hope that the coming of foreign tourists to West Sumatra will positively affect local people's economy," he said.

As of Sunday, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of 56 people in China, and many other countries, including the United States of America and Canada, have announced their confirmed cases.

However, none of confirmed cases has been found in Indonesia. Apart from this reality, since the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its official statement on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, the Indonesian Government has stayed alert.

As part of its precautionary measures, thermal scanners have been installed at various airports around the archipelago for screening international passengers.

The thermal scanners are aimed at detecting any foreign tourist suffering from the symptom of this novel (new) coronavirus.

The first case of coronavirus was declared by Chinese authorities after a person with pneumonia was hospitalized in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, according to an official statement of the World Health Organization (WHO).

As published in its official statement on January 9, 2020, WHO revealed that the "Chinese investigators conducted gene sequencing of the virus, using an isolate from one positive patient sample."

As for the outbreak of the coronavirus, ANTARA quoted a WHO report from its official website Thursday that it was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan on December 31, 2019,

In addition to providing care to patients and isolating new cases as they are identified, Chinese public health officials have reported that they remain focused on continued contact tracing, conducting environmental assessments at the wholesale market, and investigations to identify the pathogen causing the outbreak.

WHO is closely monitoring this event and is in active communication with counterparts in China. In line with standard protocols for any public health event, an incident management system has been activated across the three levels of WHO (country office, regional office and headquarters) and the Organization is prepared to mount a broader response if needed.

WHO further revealed that the preliminary determination of a novel virus would assist authorities in other countries to conduct disease detection and response. Over the past week, people with symptoms of pneumonia and reported travel history to Wuhan had been identified at international airports.

"WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travelers. WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available," it said.
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Translator: Mario SN, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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